Work has started on removing a former antique shop on Mohawk Avenue — long considered an eyesore by village officials.
A crew from KEK Excavating began work Wednesday to shore up the rear portion of the building at 302 Mohawk Ave., which is built into a hillside. The village wants to maintain that section and taper the hill down somewhat, according to Building Inspector Luis Aguero.
“It’s just a stabilization project to make sure it doesn’t collapse in the future,” he said.
Aguero could not provide a timetable of when most of the structure would be taken down. Workers have been busy clearing out old furniture that was left in the building, which is owned by Robert Williams. “There’s so much debris in the way. They’re still working their way until that hillside,” Aguero said.
Once started, demolition should take about two weeks, Aguero said.
A small section of North Reynolds Street will need to be closed while the work is completed. Aguero said the contractor wants to make sure that people along that street can get in and out of their driveways.
The village Board of Trustees originally awarded the contract in May and had hoped work would be completed over the summer. However, in what Mayor Kris Kastberg described as a “comedy of errors,” the process took a lot longer than expected.
First, the village had to obtain a variance from the state to demolish the building because it contained asbestos. Then, there was a delay as the village sought to disconnect the utilities.
“The gas and the electric were not unhooked from the building because the owner interfered with our request to take those services out,” he said.
Village officials worked with National Grid to resolve the problem.
In the meantime, the contractor took another job, Kastberg said. The Scotia demolition began after that project was completed.
This is the culmination of four-year effort to remove the structure. As part of a crackdown on quality-of-life issues, the village in 2007 began trying to get Williams to remove old furniture from the store. It took him to court to clean up the property, but the end result was a fine and little progress on improving the structure.
Village trustees voted in December 2010 to condemn the property after firefighters — responding to an odor of gas — found that parts of the floor and ceiling had already collapsed. After Williams did not comply with a deadline to demolish the structure himself, the village voted to do it and bill him for the cost, about $168,000.
“It’s been a long time and it’s been very convoluted, but it’s getting done,” Kastberg said.
Williams said Monday he wanted to defer comment until later this week. He previously has said that the effort to remove his building was a politically motivated attack. He claimed firefighters entered the structure under false pretenses.
He also does not believe the building was in danger of collapsing and thinks village officials will have trouble redeveloping the property.
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Categories: Schenectady County